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Safety Laws in North Carolina

Helmets

Motorcycles

Helmets are required for all riders.

Bicycles

All riders 15 years and younger must wear a helmet.

Headlights

Motorcycles

Headlights required during daytime.

Bicycles

When riding at night, your bicycle must have:

  • A front white light visible from at least 300 feet.
  • A red rear reflector visible from at least 200 feet.

Vehicles

Headlights must be turned on:

  • From sunset until sunrise.
  • When visibility, due to angry weather, gets reduced to 400 feet or less.
  • Whenever your windshield wipers are in use.

Cell Phones and Texting

Cell phone restrictions:

  • All drivers under 18 are banned from using cell phones while driving. Dialing 911 in the case of an emergency is the lone exception.
  • School bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones.

Texting restrictions:

  • All drivers are banned from texting while behind the wheel.

Child Car Seat Laws

  • Kids younger than 8 years old and weighing less than 80 pounds must ride in a car seat or booster.
  • Depending on which comes first, kids can upgrade to a seat belt once they turn 8 years old or top 80 pounds.
  • Car seats must be fastened in a rear seat if your child is under five, weighs less than 40 pounds, and if your car contains passenger-side airbags. You can bypass this requirement if your child's safety seat is airbag-compatible.

Read our How to Buy a Child Safety Seat article for more information.

Seat Belts

  • Kids, younger than 16 years old, must wear a seat belt regardless of where they sit and follow the child safety law weight requirements above.
  • Everyone 16 years old and older must wear a seat belt in any seat.

Reporting Drunk or Dangerous Drivers

Call *47 (North Carolina's Highway Patrol) if you suspect a driver of being drunk or reckless. Provide the driver's license plate number, make, model, location and travel direction. Do not try to stop the vehicle on your own.

Reporting Unattended Kids in Vehicles

Dial 911 if you suspect an unattended child left in a vehicle is in danger from excessive heat or cold. Remain with the vehicle, if possible, until authorities arrive.

Reporting Unattended Pets in Vehicles

Call the local police department or animal control unit if you feel an unattended pet inside a vehicle is at risk.

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